Robert MacIntyre has joined Connor Syme and Craig Ross in laying down an early-season marker in the battle to make Scotland’s Eisenhower Trophy team later this year.
After seeing Syme and Ross win the Australian and South African Amateur Championships respectively, the Glencruitten left-hander got the domestic campaign off to a flying start with victory in the Scottish Champion of Champions at Leven Links.
MacIntyre carded rounds of 65, 67, 65 and 66 for a 21-under-par 263 total, winning by a shot from halfway leader Liam Johnston from Dumfries & County after the pair turned the final 36 holes into a two-horse race.
It was the 19-year-old’s second big win in men’s events after he was crowned as the Scottish Amateur Championship at Muirfield last summer.
“The win means a lot but to do it in that style was even better,” said MacIntyre, who cut short a spell at college in the US over the winter.
“Getting to 21-under I thought would be uncatchable but yet again Liam came at me fighting hard. So it was good to hang on to the win.
“It’s a good overall score on any course and feels great to get the win. But I’m not getting ahead of myself as its a long season ahead.”
Three off the lead at the halfway stage, MacIntyre made his move with a seven-birdie salvo in the third round to open up a three-shot lead as Johnston signed for a 71 after dropping three shots in the first five holes.
An eagle and two birdies then took MacIntyre out in 30 in the final circuit before picking up further shots at the 10th and 12th.
However, a bogey at the 13th was followed by five pars to finish and, in the end, he just scraped home after Johnston closed with a flawless 64 consisting of an eagle and five birdies.
The quality of golf from both MacIntyre and Johnston was highlighted by the fact that the player in third - Haggs Castle’s Barry Hume - finished seven shots behind the runner-up.
Hume, who won the Leven Gold Medal on the same course last year, had opened with a 10-under-par 61, though it won’t count as a course record due to preferred lies being in operation.